World’s highest echelons of biomedicine in Malaysia

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Malaysia – On 23 March 2016, eleven of the world’s most distinguished biomedical experts from renowned research institutions such as the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Harvard University, Columbia University, the J Craig Venter Institute, California, and The Chinese University of Hong Kong gathered at Sunway University recently for the International Symposium on Precision Medicine (ISPM), themed “The Future of Population Health”. The Symposium was held at Sunway University and admission was fully sponsored by the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF).

The JCF brought in internationally renowned experts from the world’s most powerful nations, which are pursuing the promise of precision medicine. By bringing in these specialised speakers, Sunway University intends to communicate the latest global developments in precision medicine research and to spark a discussion on precision medicine’s implications on the future of healthcare in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

Among the prominent presenters was Dr Mark Boguski, a molecular pathologist who introduced the term “precision medicine” from Harvard Medical School into the medical literature in 2009. US President Barack Obama who unveiled the USD 215 million Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) last year, then popularized the term. Professor Patrick Maxwell, Regius professor of physic at the University of Cambridge, who was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen in 2012, and is part of the University of Cambridge’s Biomedical Campus, the hub for UK Government’s GPB 50 million Catapult Programme in Precision Medicine, was the keynote speaker at the Symposium.

The Jeffrey Cheah Professorial Fellows, Prof John Todd FRS, professor of medical genetics, University of Cambridge; Prof Khaw Kay-Tee, CBE, professor of clinical gerontology, University of Cambridge; and Prof William James, professor of virology, University of Oxford, also shared their areas of medical expertise with the 450 delegates present.

“Innovations in precision medicine by Malaysian researchers and entrepreneurs will create strong economic benefits for the nation. These developments promote the creation of new jobs and new industries, in healthcare and health tourism, to boost the economy, and to share in cutting edge medical frontier technology,” said Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, founder and chairman of the Sunway Group, chancellor of Sunway University and founding trustee of the JCF.

Precision medicine is a new approach to disease prevention and treatment that takes into account differences in people’s genome, environments and lifestyles. This customized approach overcomes the challenge of how some treatments can be successful for some patients and not others. It also gives clinicians tools to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying a patient’s health, disease, or condition, and to better predict which treatments will be the most effective.

Guest of honor, YB Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, Malaysia’s minister of health Malaysia at the official opening ceremony of the Symposium said: “The promise of precision medicine is important to us as a nation, as we pursue our goal to become an advanced nation on multiple dimensions by 2020; not only by being an advanced economy, but also a caring and inclusive nation which is truly integrated and united. The wellbeing of the people plays a crucial role in realizing this noble goal.”